Wildflower part one: the “what happened” edition

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For those unfamiliar with triathlon culture or who haven’t had to listen to me yammer on about my doings (you lucky bastards!), Wildflower is an iconic race that’s been around for ~35 years. It bills itself as the “Woodstock of triathlon” which is pretty accurate. It’s this weird combination of hippie festival and Type A sporting event. And I’ve wanted to do it for as long as I’ve known about it – approximately ten years or so. But logistics of flying to a race where you need to camp combined training for an early May half ironman in the Pacific Northwest were too daunting. Then, after we moved back to CA, the drought had taken it’s toll on the event – the lake levels continued to drop until last year when they had to cancel it.

So, when the announcement came that Wildflower was coming back, I decided this was a sign from the universe and pulled the trigger pretty early. I’d been wanting a big goal to train for and now I lived close enough to be able to drive my ridiculous amounts of stuff there. Plus, as an added bonus, OTC announced it as a club race, so there were a ton of people to train and camp with. Huzzah!

Spring rocketed by and, before I knew it, it was time to pack up the car and head to Lake San Antonio!

I wanted to get there early so that we could settle in and not do a big three hour drive the day before the race. I was very glad I did, because there was a little bit of drama with our camping sites. The club had been promised ten reserved sites, but between the event organizers not really marking them and mis-communication over which campgrounds were first-come/first-serve, we only had three. Thankfully, our president carries caution tape in his truck, (WTF Charlie?) so we hastily marked off some open space:

But, thankfully we got that resolved and we could settle into the serious business of glamping. Charlie’s hammock got the party started:

Then Todd raised the ante with his inflatable couch and travel bar:

And then it just went from there. Todd and I have met our match!

The next morning we went down to the festival/race start. I knew this was a big race, but looking at the transition area was the first solid indication:

The swim start/finish. The long concrete hill to climb after swimming was an especially nice touch…

There were these cool steps with the winners’ names on them. It was basically a greatest hits list of racers in this sport. It reminded me of the bricks at Ironman Canada in Penticton – such a sense of triathlon history.

They also had these big cut-outs of famous past racers (I assume?) set up around the park. It was pretty cool.

It was hard to stay off your feet and rest before the race. There was a huge expo to look at, packets to pick-up, food trucks, music, etc. But I finally tore myself away and went back to the camp site to put my feet up and watch Erica hang the disco ball:

You heard me, disco ball!

The majority of the group had shown up by this point, so we had a great afternoon/evening of hanging out and chatting:

Then it was time to go to bed because the next morning was race day! (I have butterflies just typing that.) Ear plugs and melatonin helped me get a few hours, but I did my usual tossing and turning, followed by the butterflies/pit of dread in my stomach when it’s time to get up. It’s weird that I choose to do a sport where I don’t actually enjoy competing. I love to train for a goal, but the actual racing – not so much.

So, as I gathered my backpack of race gear and headed down to the start, I was doing my usual pre-race warm-up of breathing/trying not to cry/going to the porta-potty a million times.  The transition area now looked like this, so I had LOTS of company:

Photo credit: Erica Hruby

I hadn’t really planned well for a bright and sunny start line (note for next year, bring cheap sunglasses… ) and was generally feeling rattled. They said that transition would be closed at 8, 45 minutes before my start time and I didn’t know if I would see Todd beforehand with the huge crowd, so I had to leave my watch and wedding ring in transition instead of giving them to him. By the time I saw him, I was a little bit of a mess. He’s seen this movie before, to he hugged me and helped me into my wetsuit and generally calmed me down.

We found a place to sit on the dock and watched the swim waves start. It was good to take a minute to chill and gather myself. I was still super nervous, but feeling okay. Way too soon, it was time to put on my hot pink swim cap and join my wave. I gave Todd a final hug good-bye and headed over.

The swim start is super narrow and I’ve heard many stories of getting punched and kicked, so I started way in the back of my wave. As usual, the adrenaline of the race start had my heart rate through the roof, so I did my customary stop/breast-stroke for a couple of strokes to look at where I was heading, get my breathing under control and find my rhythm. I’ve done this so many times and while I’m not a fast swimmer, I am a steady one. I usually settle into a nice stroke, find a line a little off the buoy line, so I’m not getting swum over by faster swimmers behind me and get it done.

But this time, I just couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I stopped and breast-stroked a few more times and it just wasn’t working, so I finally stopped at one of the safety kayaks and paused for a little while trying to figure out what to do. (The poor 20-something on the kayak had no idea what to do with me, so thankfully my only real option was to keep swimming – either back to shore or to finish the course.) I started to feel better and so I headed out again.

The swim course is a big triangle and my kayak stop was probably a third of the way up the first side of the the triangle and I was finally starting to feel better and get into my groove a little bit. Then when I made it to the turnaround point (the top of the triangle) it felt like someone stepped on my chest. I moved over to the side, so I wasn’t in the way of all the swimmers, but I was seriously freaking out (which didn’t really help things). I was wheezing and thinking about all of Todd’s pre-heart attack symptoms and various bad scenarios.

So, when the second 20-something kayaker asked if I was okay, I was like “I don’t think so?” Like the first one, he didn’t really know what to do once I said I thought I needed to stop, but thankfully he found a lady with a radio who did. I cried on his kayak for a bit while the medical team came over to give me a ride back to shore. They handed me off to some nice paramedics (one of whom made my day by asking my age and then doing a double take when I told him. It’s the little things, right?) The paramedics checked me out, ran an EKG and listened to my lungs. They asked me a million questions and didn’t really have any explanation for me, but at least I could rule out my horror scenarios.

I walked up the ramp to meet Todd and had a good cry saying good-bye to the race day I wanted and accepting the one that I got. I was full of doubts that I’d done the right thing. (Was it lack of fitness? Was it an anxiety attack? Would it happen again?) Thankfully, my many years of doing this sport kicked in and I had to accept that even if I’d “toughened up” and made it back to shore, I was in no shape to tackle a long, hot, hilly bike ride and would likely have not made the bike cut-off. That mental picture went a long way and helped me be thankful that I could listen to my body, even when I didn’t like what it was saying. Plus, having my race end on the swim meant that I could still cheer Catherine on the bike and run. Stay tuned for part two!

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Island style

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The rest of our trip was a delightful mixture of beach time, pool time, delicious food, adult beverages and random adventures. And, of course, plenty of entertainment from this little nugget:

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We went to Lydgate Beach Park with Jenn, Bryan and The Bird while Erin & David were diving. It was a perfect chilling out beach, with a protected area for Amalie (and yours truly) to splash around in:

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I know it looks like Jenn is getting ready to backhand her child, but I swear she’s just putting on sunscreen:

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T chilling on the beach near the “cluck clucks” as Amalie calls them. (Naturally that was their name for the rest of the trip.)

TwithBeachChickens

We left the beach just as dark clouds were rolling in and missed the sudden rainstorm. Instead, we hit up a ridiculously good fish market for poke and ate it on the collection of plastic lawn chairs that they call a bus stop, in between rain showers. It was glorious.

WaterfallsRiverView

There was a day spent checking out waterfalls and failing to find a place to hike nearby, so we opted to go for lunch in town, where we saw this super cute little gecko.

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Kind of hard to argue with this motto…

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We rented snorkeling equipment and I attempted snorkeling in this lovely spot:

SnorkelingSite

But I chickened out and came out earlier than everyone else. We ended up going over to the baby beach near our condo afterward, which was much more successful. A big sea turtle swam right under T, so that was pretty cool. We celebrated with happy hour at a place that had little tiny pineapples in their window boxes:

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Happy hour crew:

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Our last full day at the condo, we went for a morning beach walk and checked out tide pools.

TidePools

And said good-bye to our friend the monk seal…

MonkSeal

Then later went to look at Spouting Horn, a cool little blowhole that has a second hole that makes crazy cool sounds. (To go with the exclamations of excitement from the crowd of tourists. OOOOHHH! AAAAAHHHH! It was hilarious.)

Blowhole

And of course, a last Hawaiian ice. Delicious…

LastHawaiianIce

David took this fantastic shot of the sunset through his spyglass. It sums up our final night well. (And looks like an OP shirt from the 80’s… )

FinalSunset

There are no words for how much I’m going to miss these ladies. We need to put another trip on the books soon!

FarewellLadies

We went to an amazing Japanese restaurant before dropping Erin & David off for their red eye flight. (Which was the same flight as Jenn & Bryan, but they opted to keep Amalie’s routine as normal as possible, in the hopes that she’d sleep better on the plane.) It was this crazy big place with all these different sections in it. But it was great people watching and we gorged ourselves on good, reasonably priced sushi and a green tea mudpie for dessert. Then it was back to the strangely empty condo and off to bed before our early morning flight home.

So much has changed since that first trip two years ago, but the fun of these group trips has definitely remained the same. I hope they continue for many, many years. Aloha!

Coastal adventures

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A while back, T was contemplating doing a marathon in Newport, Oregon. The catch was that it was the day after my birthday. Now, I love the Oregon coast, so I was more than happy to share my moment with his athletic pursuits. And, when he got injured and didn’t sign up for the race, we decided to keep the hotel I’d already booked and go anyway. And I’m so glad we did. I’m not one for making a big fuss over my birthday, but it was really nice to have some fun, low-key, plans on the books.

We drove down on my actual birthday, which meant that we spent most of it in the car, but when we finally checked in to our hotel and checked into our room, we were greeted with this fantastic view from our balcony:

HotelBalconyWe decompressed on the balcony and then went for a walk on the beach before dinner. The boy even wrote me a little love note in the sand (mostly because I scoffed at the notion that he would. #marriage):

LoveNote

Our walk took us to a jetty:

JettySo we decided to continue our walk on it. Doesn’t T look like he’s on an angsty 90’s album cover?

JettyTThere were some cool rocks:

JettyRocksEspecially these ones that had mysterious holes in them:

CoolJettyRocksT was much better at traversing the rocky terrain than yours truly, but it set me up to get this epic shot of the two of us:

SelfieSquishOur jetty adventures took a little longer than expected, so we had to hustle to get back to get ready for dinner. I’d made reservations at a very highly rated local seafood place. There was no way to tell how fancy it was from looking online, so I was a little surprised that it was a very busy, casual place. But the food was excellent. Birthday crab cakes:

BdayDinner1I had a bacon-wrapped tuna “mignon”:

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T had an excellent halibut special:

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Plus, we had a very pleasant view of the harbor:

Harbor

We’d picked up a little birthday cake in Portland during the drive down, but I felt silly eating it in the restaurant, but we took it back to the room and enjoyed it with a nice bottle of wine, while watching a cheesy DVD that the hotel would let guests check out for free. Happy Birthday to me!

The next day, the weather surprised us with some sunshine. (It had been a pretty bleak forecast.) We opted to walk to a cute local place for breakfast. (Delicious!) While there we bought a HUMONGOUS (and pricy) loaf of bread, which was a shame because we happened upon a really nice farmer’s market that had many other bread options. C’est la vie! The farmer’s market was really lovely though:

FarmersMarketOn our way back we enjoyed some local art:

MobyDicksAnd delightful architectural details (please notice the nautical rope carpet in the background):

TheatreTexturesWe took a nice meandering walk back to the hotel. The views were amazing:

BeachViewBridgeAfter a nice beach run and some lazy napping time, we headed over to the Yaquina Head lighthouse. The lighthouse is lovely:

LighthouseBut the really cool thing is the beach filled with these “cobbles”:

CobbleBeachWhile they are hard to walk on, they are really unique:

BigCobbles

Plus, we’d timed our visit perfectly to see tide pools:

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They were pretty cool:

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Our last day was spent wandering around Newport, having lunch at Mo’s, eating ourselves sick on saltwater taffy, and enjoying the local wildlife:

SeaLions

We went for a last afternoon beach walk at low-tide. I was mesmerized by all of the amazing textures. I really wished I’d had a real camera, but the phone did pretty well:

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It was a great trip – the perfect combination of laziness and activity. I got to spend lots of quality time with the boy, which is always nice.

Catalina hijinks

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After yesterday’s craziness, it was nice to have a day to sleep in, enjoy the island and hang out with T, Erik and Nerissa. After a big bacon-filled breakfast, we took the golf cart into town. Judging from the huge group of finisher shirts heading to the ferry, it appeared that most people were heading home today. Which meant we had Avalon to ourselves for the most part:

RecoveryHijinks06RecoveryHijinks05But that just means no witnesses to our silly photos!

RecoveryHijinks02Catalina has a bunch of crazy painted bison dotted around town:

RecoveryHijinks01Which means more photos…

RecoveryHijinks_BuffaloBoysAfter browsing in the cute shops for a while, we headed up to look at the Wrigley Memorial Botanic Garden. Apparently, I ran down this yesterday…

RecoveryHijinks_WG3It was really interesting to see a botanic garden of succulents and other local plants:

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I love how sculptural succulents are:

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Nerissa in the garden:

RecoveryHijinks_WG4We walked up to see the memorial:

RecoveryHijinks_WG5It took me quite a while, because there were many stairs involved:

RecoveryHijinks_WG8RecoveryHijinks_WG9But the architecture was impressive:

RecoveryHijinks_WG6As was the view:

RecoveryHijinks_WG7Naturally, I made Erik pose on the Bridge of Science. (We never really figured out what made it “sciencey”. I figure placing a physicist on it certainly helped!)

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All of that walking around worked up an appetite, so we headed back to town and stopped for ice cream. (Yep, I’m rocking the dorky compression sleeves in public.)

RecoveryHijinks_IceCreamOur final Avalon activity was to go check out the old Casino building.

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We’d originally planned to do a walking tour of the inside of the building, but they were having a special event and not offering tours. The Art Deco murals on the outside are quite cool:

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The outside of the building is quite nice as well.

RecoveryHijinks29Then it was back to the condo for some lunch, a brief nap, some adult beverages and some croquet. The complex had a little court, so it seemed like a very pleasant afternoon activity. T set up the court and Nerissa ran the wickets to show us the course.

RecoveryHijinks32Her dedication to the art of croquet is impressive:

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We had a very enjoyable time, croquet is a silly game. (Made sillier by us and a little alcohol… )

RecoveryHijinks_CroquetRecoveryHijinks35RecoveryHijinks34At the end of the game, Nerissa had us do a fun panorama shot:

RecoveryHijinks_CroquetPanorama

The rest of the evening was filled with fun card games, (Cards Against Humanity, obvi, and a really fun game that Erik & Nerissa brought called “We Didn’t Play Test This At All.”) champagne/wine, delicious dinner and lots of laughter. It was a fantastic way to end an amazing weekend. We stayed up too late for our early wake-up call, but it was worth it.

The next morning we were up early to catch the 8:00 ferry. This meant one last sunrise:

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Packing up and getting to the ferry was hectic, but we made it happen. Farewell, lovely island. Thank you for a beautiful weekend. Even the tough parts…

RecoveryHijinks40RecoveryHijinks44Good-bye, ridiculous condo. You were a wonderful place to stay.

RecoveryHijinks45The ride back was a bit quieter and more subdued than the ride out. Thankfully, so was the external temperature.

RecoveryHijinks41We killed a few hours in Long Beach. First at a great breakfast place and then a really cool coffee house:

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Then it was time to say good-bye and head for home. Such a fun trip!

Out of the gray and into the blue

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Even though we’ve had a very mild winter here in the Pacific Northwest, I was still soooooo excited to get away to some California sunshine. Our flight landed early and coincided nicely with Erik & Nerissa’s arrival. After buying all of the groceries that we could fit into the rental car, we made our way to the ferry terminal for our trip to Catalina. They had this handy topographical map. Whose idea was it to run a marathon on this mountainous rock?

CatalinaArrival01And, of course, Erik & I had to get our picture taken with the pirate bison!

CatalinaArrival02(Fun fact about Catalina: back in the in the 20’s a film crew brought bison to the island to film a western. Naturally, they left them behind and the herd flourished on the island. Now, they are part of the island’s local wildlife.)

After a long wait in line, we were onboard the ferry, (im)patiently waiting for departure:

CatalinaArrival03The ride over was quite lovely. We saw a bunch of dolphins as we neared the island, jumping and frolicking in the ocean ahead of us. Naturally, any attempts to photograph them with my iPhone were futile, so picture dolphins in this view:

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After so many years, I was nervous that it would have gotten ruined, but it was still just as beautiful as I remembered.

CatalinaArrival05We picked up our key and took a taxi to our condo, approximately a mile or so from town. It was like stepping into an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” I mean, this was the view from our balcony:

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CatalinaArrival07Wicker-palooza on said balcony:

CatalinaArrival11I thought they did a nice job with the mission-style architectural touches inside.

CatalinaArrival10But the highlight was this:

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I mean, look at that tub! (Sounds of choral music) I felt a little guilty about the giant bathtub, given the very serious drought situation that California is in, but after a hilly marathon, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

It was a chill evening, given the ungodly early hour I had to get up the next morning. We grilled some chicken and hung out on the balcony. I laid out all of my race stuff and went to bed early in the fruitless quest to get a good night’s sleep.

Summer smorgasbord

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Sorry for the blog neglect. Summer has finally come to the Pacific Northwest and I couldn’t be happier about it, but it does make keeping up on my blogging somewhat difficult. There haven’t been any major adventures lately, so I’ll just do a little synopsis of our activities accompanied by lots of photos.

These two have been keeping us entertained:

DogsEspecially Young Austin. He makes me laugh all the time. My phone is chock-full of pictures of his antics. (If the trend continues, I may need to rename this blog!)

SillyAustinLearning how the couch works #sospecial:

SillyAustin2This is after TWO runs, one with T and then a second one with me later in the day. Tired, but that tail is still wagging… 

SillyAustin1He does crash pretty spectacularly in the evenings though:

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We signed up for a CSA this year and have been enjoying lots of this goodness:

CSAbox1 CSAbox2We’ve also managed to enjoy some outdoor happy hours:

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The boy and I have been out on a few bike adventures. You know you live in Seattle when your summer post-ride pictures look like this (drizzle + road biking = filthy):

DirtyFeetWe’ve also managed to hang out with this little rug-rat a few times:

RowanTandMWe went out to see the bike criterium in Ballard and had a very enjoyable time:

BallardCritWell, some of us more than others… 😉

GrumpyMSo far, we’re off to a pretty great start!

 

 

 

 

 

Balancing act

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The sun came out and we decided to hit the beach. The house had a stand-up paddleboard and a surfboard. We couldn’t find any bungee cords, so we took them down to the beach, Hawaiian-style:

PTcruiserYet another crappy day at the crowded beach:

FSbeach1The Four Seasons does a very sweet set-up:

BeachSetupI spent quite a lovely amount of time looking at this view.

UmbrellaViewEvery now and then, a Four Seasons employee would come by with ice water or little hors d’oeuvres to snack on. It was sublime. After a few hours, we headed back to the house for a little lunch. I was feeling like a little exercise after all of the lounging, but not ambitious enough for a run, so I talked T into a very mellow hike up to Sweetheart Rock, which was the muddy trail we’d started on during our run.

SHhikeOverviewT kept an eye out for whales and dolphins:

ThikingSomeone had added some romance to the trail:

HikingLoveThe views kept getting better and better:

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Sweetheart rock:
SweetheartRockCool geological marker:

GeologicalMarkerI really like when you can hike in sandals:

HikingAttireThe view went on forever:

SHhikeView4When we got back, we hung out for a little while. Erin and David had gone on an outing into Lanai City, so the rest of us decided to go see if we could get a better view of the sunset. There was a big golf course between us and a west-ward facing view, so we took a little shortcut. We didn’t see anyone else, but it still felt very rebellious to walk on the green:

SunsetChasingThere was a great view of our earlier hike:

HikeViewWe never got a clear view of the sunset itself, but just to the left was pretty nice:

Sunset2I looked over to see this. The sunset is well-represented on social media:

DocumentingJenn & Bryan made a magnificent steak dinner with grilled asparagus and some more of the purple sweet potatoes. I think we’re starting to get the hang of this whole vacation thing.